Interim Phoenix Police Chief talks his hopes and plans for the department as he begins role

We're learning more about the appointed Phoenix Police's Interim Chief as he begins his role to help reform the embattled department.

Members of the Phoenix City Council voted to approve the appointment. According to page 149 of the council meeting agenda, the council was set to vote on whether to authorize the city manager, or his designee, to enter into an agreement with Michael Sullivan to outline terms of his temporary employment with the city of Phoenix.

"The initial term will be 12 months and may be extended for up to 24 months, the length of which will be determined by the parties," city officials said.

According to information listed on the council meeting agenda, Sullivan is set to receive $232,000 in salary, as well as various other benefits, some of which include a communication allowance of $120 a month, and relocation expense reimbursement of up to $5,000.

"New Interim Police Chief Michael Sullivan is a forward-thinking leader who understands the need to modernize public safety. With council approval of his contract today, I look forward to his arrival here and to working with him to make Phoenix a stronger, safer city," said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

Sullivan started Monday, Sept. 12. 

The department's current chief, Jeri Williams, will retire sometime this summer, the department announced on May 3. She will stay on to assist Sullivan during his onboarding period.

"After much prayer and consideration and in consultation with my family and city leadership, I have decided to make a change," Chief Williams said in a statement. "There is never a perfect time to transition but the time feels right for me now to step aside. Just like when I felt called to do this job, I also feel called right now to go in a new direction, allowing me the rare opportunity to prioritize family and explore future endeavors."

No official date for her retirement has been given.

One-on-one with Sullivan

The Department of Justice announced its probe in August 2021 after allegations of police misconduct against the homeless and protesters. The investigation is why Sullivan says he's here.

Sullivan worked extensively with the Baltimore Police Department as it reformed under a Department of Justice probe. He expects to do the same in Phoenix.

"We're going to reform this department," he said. "We're going to move this department forward."

Amid staffing shortages and other challenges, the interim chief says the police department is the most rewarding career out there and he invites people to come and be a part of the change.

READ: Jeri Williams' full statement on retirement

Sullivan comes to Phoenix from the East Coast

According to an article published by The Baltimore Sun, Sullivan was hired in 2019 by Police Commissioner Michael Harrison to lead that department's Operations Bureau. He later led a department bureau that was established to ensure compliance with a consent decree that the department entered with the U.S. Government in 2017 after an investigation found a pattern of unconstitutional policing.

Prior to his time in Baltimore, Sullivan, according to the Louisville, Ky.-based newspaper Courier-Journal, was Louisville's deputy police chief, having served since 2016.

According to a tweet made by Louisville Metro Police Department officials, Sullivan served Louisville for 25 years.

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